On this month – my birthday month – I reflect on my life and wonder who I am. Most of my friends have finished having babies. Our children are growing up. Most of my friends have had long term relationships and I would estimate over half of them have have left those relationships. Always it was unexpected from the outside. Always they looked like they were carved in stone but they dismantle them until not even the shadow remains. No more substantial than dust in the wind.

We’ve bought houses and sold houses or left houses. We’ve had career changes. Most of my friends are artists and a good many of my friends who are artists do not use their art to put food on the table anymore. They’re working 9-5 jobs. They’re studying. Many of my friends are in this stage of metamorphosis where you begin to take stock and look around and wonder – who am I? Who am I now that I am no longer someone’s wife? Who am I now that my kids are growing up?

I go away for a few days over my birthday. I go to the beach and it rains. The sea looks angry and the sky is like a bruise. My anxiety flares and I go to bed early. I wake at 5. My whole body hurts. I’ve been so tense all night it feels like someone has taken to my body with a bat. My eyes feel like they have the flu. My head hurts. I’m still not that well and my jaw is out of place from clenching it. I cry. And to top it off my partner has written this absolutely beautiful tribute to me on Facebook for my birthday of which I feel unworthy. I am fragile this day. I feel like I am made of fine glass and with the smallest vibration I could shatter.

We play Scrabble and he always wins. I become obsessed with making certain words and hoard my tiles until I find the specific one I’m waiting for so I can make it. Sometimes the place I am planning to put it disappears and I miss the chance, sometimes my waiting pays off. Sometimes I let him make words that aren’t allowed because I love him.


The rain clears and we walk along the beach even though it is still cold and windy. I watch a sea bird hover above the sea and dive down into the water and pull up a fish. It carries it away and I am happy for the bird and sad for the fish. I look for shells for my littlest girl. I only pick the prettiest ones for her. I like the small shells the best, tiny and intricate. I see one in the sand and pick it up but see that it is broken along it’s edge. I go to throw it away but I remember that I am broken too and people still love me. I decide to keep it. When I come home I put it on display in my room near my collection of seaglass.


We go to film night at the girls school and they both win awards. They’re nominated so many times I lose count. It’s a long night for the little children and my small girl falls asleep on my lap for the second half, missing her own performance in one of the films.

It rains again. It feels like it has never stopped raining and for me the rain is both cleansing and holds a sadness that I cannot name. When it use to rain and I lived out west I would hole up in my house. The wood floors would get a sheen on them from all the moisture in the air. Sometimes it felt as though the walls were weeping along with the sky. The pets would smell damp and the grass would become untamed and we would sit inside and listen to the rain on the tin roof and we wouldn’t go out because we were all scared of flooding. I would close my eyes and see the brown churning water and the darkness and the unknown. I am grateful when it rains in a tentative kind of way. The same way you can be grateful for the warmth of a fire and not get too close. I hear it now, trickling into the tank and the weeds grow tall along the fence line. My washing I forgot to remove yesterday hangs low with the weight of water and so do I.


I’ve been thinking about beauty. A part of me always longs for order. That instagram prettiness – white and greys. Minimal. The only colour is splashes of green from plants. Another part of me enjoys rustic beauty, bare floorboards, tongue in groove walls, a mandala of colours, an old couch with a throw on it to hide the bare patches. Eclectic hodgepodge. The character of a place. The overgrown lawn, the rusting tricycle, children with unbrushed hair, a bruise, a smudge of dirt, an unwashed window. I don’t know why I am drawn to these things. Something in me is unfurling.

I’ve begun to see the beauty of brokenness.

Purple Flowers.

It’s been just over a year since I began this blog. The day I actually broke went unmarked in any calendar because I’m not sure exactly what date I would go from. Breaking happened slowly, me fraying at the edges for two years before I tore apart all at once.

And I have gotten so much better. I get up and go to work, assisting other people. I come home and I work quietly, editing for photographers and carefully correcting colours and clearing newborn skin. I take my children to school and their appointments. I lie beside my small children at night and read them bedtime stories. I go with my lover to lunch and he eats the rest of my salad when I can’t finish it. Together we take the children to the beach where my daughter collects and entire basket of shells and we have to convince her to ‘leave some for other people’. I buy myself bedside tables from Ikea and he convinces me to sit on the trolley on the way back to the car and runs with the trolley until I’m breathless with laughter and fear we will crash into a column. I pay bills. I do my hair. I’m blissfully normal.

I sleep.

And this is not something I take for granted anymore. Some nights when I don’t have an early shift I sleep for 9 hours. This time last year 5.5 was normal. This time last year I woke to darkness every day and watched the rising of the sun and tried to breathe and survive. Now days I still sometimes wake before the sun and I watch it rise in my car with a cup of tea in a travel mug as I inch along with the other commuters.

I try to dream.

And my dreams are of fairy lights and lace. My dreams are of plaster dust and lavender. The crown of a newborn head, tiny crescent fingernails. My dreams are of wrinkles and white hairs. I throw the tablecloth of my life out before me and smooth it flat, I am careful to choose what I lay upon it. I watch the wheel of life turn and feel no sadness at it’s passing.

I wake one morning and reach for my camera. My four daughters and I escape the house like puppies set loose and we enter the outside which is different with a camera. Inside the lens everything fits into a box. We find some purple flowers in the grass by the side of a road and we stop to shoot in them. Inside the lens it doesn’t matter that cars are driving past and construction is happening beside us. It doesn’t matter that this spot is actually an overgrowth of weeds. The mosquitos are invisible in the shot. Inside the lens it only matters that there are purple flowers on the ground springing from the grass like hope and that is all I show you. Life is different, so easily distracted by the noise of everything you barely notice the purple flowers. I had driven that road every day but I didn’t see them until I went looking for magic.

That whole year I spent trapped in my own mind, fighting for a way out. Looking for a door.

I was the door.


Will Stand Up.

About 15 months ago I saw a photo of me that shook me a bit. I’ve been all shapes and sizes but I had never looked at a photo of me and truly hated it. I had looked at photos and thought it was a rotten photo but I had never before looked at a photo of myself and thought, “I look bad.”

It probably isn’t a photo you would expect, in fact I posted it because after years of being a photographer I learnt that no matter how much you hate the way you look, your family does not. They don’t care. They don’t see what you see.

Your partner sees your smile in your eyes.
They remember the time you laughed so hard that for ages after one of you would just have to start giggling and it would set the other off. (Sassafras)
They remember the touch of your fingertips on their skin.
Whispered I love you’s.

Your kids don’t see your imperfections. They remember soothed brows when they were hot with fever.
The time you went out to dinner and wore the red dress that made them think you were the most beautiful woman in the world.
They remember school concerts where you clapped the loudest, bedtime stories and birthday cakes.

No one ever sees what you see. I know that. So as a photographer I posted the picture. But as a woman who is human and flawed and a tiny bit vain – I hated it. I felt ashamed of me. And I stopped taking pictures.

I still photographed my sleeping daughter curled into me like a comma but I cut my face from the frame. I shot the book I was reading, the trees near me, my children, the surf, my partner…but not me. Sometimes parts of me made cameos, my feet in the sand, my hand holding a cup of tea, a shoulder, a wisp of hair. But I avoided the camera as much as I could because it was a mirror I was not ready to look into.

I do not write this to garner compliments. I didn’t need reassurance of my value. I didn’t feel worthless. I was still a good person, I was still kind, I was still funny (sometimes) and I was still clever. I was good at my job and I was a mother who was doing her very best and every day woke up trying to do better. I was a good person. I did not feel worthless simply because I did not feel attractive. I read articles frequently that advised that we need to love the body we are in and I felt that that was bullshit. Was it not possible that I could NOT love the body I was in and still be okay? Couldn’t I just look at myself with a critical and unbiased eye and find it lacking but still accept that I was a perfectly good person? So what if I was not pretty or beautiful or sexy? I’m still a worthy human being.

Here is what I know. I may never weigh more than I do right now. I find it so difficult to gain weight. My thighs – no matter how skinny – will always have a few rogue dimples of cellulite. My hips will always bear the stretch marks that crawled across them when I was pregnant with my first daughter. My stomach will never be entirely flat, that loose skin grew too many children and stretched like an old hair tie. It’s not coming back. My breasts will probably never fill out more than a B cup again. My hair will always be unruly and when brushed it will always go frizzy. My eyes are going to have smile lines, I can’t help it – I laugh too much.

BUT…this body? It grew children. It fed them. It carried babies that live in my home and ones that live only in my heart. It has kissed and loved and survived. It has hatched chickens and cooked meals and kneaded dough. It has delivered baby animals and picked flowers and planted herbs. It has walked beaches and forests. It has spun yarn and sewn clothes and worked stitches. It’s bled and cried and laughed and healed. It’s pressed the shutter of a camera thousands of times. It’s read and written. It has made magic.

It is not perfect. It is flawed beyond comprehension, really. It’s what I have. It works. Granted, sometimes it works like the vacuum you have held together with duct tape, but it works. Every morning when I stand in front of the mirror and I stare into my own eyes and tell myself, “You can do this. You’ve got this”, it rallies. I push it. I ask more from it than it deserves. And it rallies. It stands up.

I’m ready now. I am ready to look into that mirror and see what stares back at me. I will not look away. Not because I’m expecting beauty. But because I am expecting strength.

It’s time.

“Can stand up, will stand up…every one of us. Make your choice. Are you ready to be strong?” – BTVS “Chosen”.


Beyond Belief.

An eating disorder stole a lot from me. It didn’t just take fat. I mean, for a long time that was all I could see it taking. And for a long time that didn’t bother me because hadn’t I been trying to lose that weight for awhile? Those extra pesky few kilos?

The first thing I noticed was my hair. But I had extensions in at the time and the bonds held the lost hair in so I didn’t notice until I took them out. I have a photo of the hair that I lost that day and it was terrifying. I literally had a panic attack on the floor of the shower. That was the first outside sign.

My breasts lost their fullness. My hips protruded. I found myself staring at my ribcage below my collarbone because I had never seen it before. I fingered the bones there and wondered at them. The knobs on my spine became prominent and my legs – they held out to the last but yes, eventually they gave themselves over…the gap between my thighs widening.

Next was my skin. All the toxins that were locked in fat cells ran free throughout my body as it survived on itself. I broke out and broke out. And on top of that because the fat in my face was reduced I started to notice fine lines I never had before.

After that was my teeth which meant I knew it was also effecting my bones. I’m scared to get a bone density scan. I’m scared they will tell me it moved beyond what can be fixed. My toddler leant on me and snapped a rib. She wasn’t even being rough, just climbing on to my lap and I heard it snap and my daughter’s friend beside me heard it and stared at me. So I’m scared they will say that the damage to my bones is irreparable.

I lost my mind. Hours of my life spent in crushing anxiety.

It stripped away so much more than fat from me.

But after hours of therapy and hundreds of dollars I am getting better. I’ve put on half of what I need to. I cannot see those ribs below my collarbone anymore, hidden away under a fine cushion of newly laid fat. Slowly I get better, day after day. Clawing my way back. Fine hairs regrow all over my head like Spring returning after winter. I’m amazed at my body and the way it recovers. I’m ashamed by how poorly I treated it. That’s probably my most crushing symptom these days. The guilt of what I did to myself. The other day I went to the dentist for the first check up i had had in two years and confessed to the eating disorder like she was a priest. Then I lay back and let tears leak from my eyes while she completed her exam because I was so guilty over what I had done. So I think that’s part of my next step in recovery. Forgiving myself. Knowing that this was not my fault and I am doing the best I can.

The other day on Facebook I said that I have a bangle with “She believed she could so she did” on it. But that a more accurate one for me was, “She wasn’t quite sure if she could but she gave it a crack and got half done so good for her.” And I think there is bravery in that too. Because I DON’T always believe I can. But I ALWAYS try. I don’t always win. But I always show up. And that is worth something too.


Soul List.

When the school holidays were on I began my Ten Things lists to help me ‘show up to life’. To begin with they were working so well. Great, actually. And they were fun and sometimes contained little things like “collect three shells’. Now, that looks simple. But I was tricking myself because I knew that to collect those shells I would have to leave the house and that was part of the way I exploit myself to get me to do things I would otherwise not do.

The problem became, by week three my list was starting to look a lot like chores. Because…well, basically they were chores. There is literally nothing inspiring or exciting about writing “take kid to dentist” on your Ten Things list. It’s an errand. The idea behind Ten Things was that it would make me find beauty in little tasks. It would make me go, “Hey, this life thing? Not so bad.” Seeing your kid have a cavity filled is not life fulfilling. It sucks.

The issue was that I got caught up in being ‘productive’ when what I started this list for was to try to make my heart sing. Errands we are going to run anyway. By all means put them in a daily planner or diary so you remember them, but they have no place on a ‘soul list’. That list should contain things like, pick a wildflower, handwrite a letter to someone you love, dance along to your favourite song, swim in the ocean, have a cup of tea with a friend. The Soul List is about choosing 10 things each week that is going to create a memory. Soul List keeps you alive. It reminds you there is more to life then dentist appointments, grocery bills and laundry.

Little things. Tiny. Delightful.

(And I just remembered that I pressed a flower on my first week which now feels like a small gift to myself.)


So this week I was careful to write 10 “Soul List” things. I wrote a separate list for errands and chores but I made sure that everything on the “Soul List” was something I enjoyed or enjoyed once so that meant I probably would find some kind of satisfaction in it again. It’s the only way I can think to make it so I don’t feel like I’m just logging time here but actually living. It’s harder than I thought it would be but I guess no one ever promised it would be easy.


My therapist set me too much homework.

Apparently I have progressed to the next step of wellness which includes ‘doing stuff’. I’m not adverse to ‘doing stuff’, I like it. But I like it in small doses, carefully portioned to maintain the delicate equilibrium between forced interaction and introvert recovery where I have to ‘come down’ from the extra stimulation I’ve received by leaving the house. My therapist does not seem to share these thoughts and so, in what I can only imagine was either wild optimism or blind ignorance, she carefully penned into my ‘timetable’ for this week an outing to a cafe EVERY SINGLE DAY. Even as she was talking about it and I was nodding along I knew this was not happening. I barely have enough hours in the day to do half of what is on my to-do list let alone factoring in a random cup of tea every day. As such I’m two days out from my appointment and have done this task exactly zero times. Once a week may have been a more realistic goal, annoying yet achievable.

Other things on my homework list were writing three times a week (I’ve got that under control), spinning daily because I made the mistake of mentioning that I spin fibre sometimes, and two social outings. I wanted one but she pushed for two. I’ve tried really hard to spin daily, even though I’m out of practise and my yarn is less uniform than desirable and also spindle spinning requires more arm/wrist strength and dexterity than you think. I tend to give up after fifteen minutes with sore wrists, bored out of my brain because being forced to spin feels like work and hobbies shouldn’t feel like work.

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I think perhaps being set homework goals goes against my natural state which is that the moment I am told to do something I immediately want to disagree. It’s an awful trait that I’ve passed on to my eldest daughter who had incredible talent for ballet from 3 years old but dropped out of ballet every time she tried lessons because she ‘didn’t like being told what to do’. To this day even when I can see she is doing something that is an outrageously bad idea of apocalyptic proportions I have to be careful about how I speak to her about it because she immediately goes on the defensive and gets upset and it goes nowhere. I’ve basically just accepted after 18 years she is going to do whatever she likes. Sometimes (rarely) she will come to me afterwards and say, “That was a terrible idea”, and I will absolutely gloat and rub it in that I was right because I’m a terrible mother like that. But I do it in a sympathetic way because she is so much like me and I understand outrageously bad ideas of apocalyptic proportions.

Anyway, I’m mostly sitting here and writing this because I’m avoiding the tasks I have staring at me on that list like an accusation. I want to eke this post out for hours, hundreds of words just so I can avoid the ‘leaving the house’ tasks. But I won’t. Because another of my qualities is stubbornness. And that I have in spades.


He’s so patient with me. I feel guilty because I can only imagine it’s like buying a car you think is solid and then it turns out to have problems you can’t fix. So every time I can’t do something and he says it’s okay, smooths my hair, kisses my forehead, I feel like…”I’m sorry I did this to you.”


In some ways that was why I needed to plan a weekend away, although it was midweek. Because I thought, if I’m close to the ocean I can retreat if I need to but it still looks like I’m getting out, doing things. Because it’s been a really really long year. And I did it, you know? We walked along the beach and I built a sand turtle and a sand flower and he made a sand heart until the tide came in and tried to soak us both. And we went to lunch and we went to dinner, even though at dinner the only table was near the door and in the middle of the room so I had to keep reminding myself that people weren’t looking at me and no one cared. “It’s like the gym,” I said to myself, “Everyone worries people are watching them but no one is because they’re all just there to work out.” So I made MYSELF look at other diners so I could see they were too busy with their company and their food and no one cared about the small woman by the door.

Such tiny steps that I don’t even feel like I’m moving until I look back and think, “You’re miles away from where you were months ago when you couldn’t make it to the kitchen. You have come so far.”


I think I just keep waiting for it to be easy. But I think maybe…maybe it will never be easy. Maybe I will always have to pay a price to leave the house. Maybe everyone does. Because one thing I have learnt in the last six months is we are all a little damaged. Most weeks someone writes me to say, “I feel that. What you wrote? I feel that too.” And I never would have known. Sometimes it feels like everyone has it together and you’re the only one losing your shit. So maybe we all have something we just struggle with and push through. People are such amazing creatures. We can be so nasty and so cruel and then sometimes…divinity. Bravery. Compassion. Fierceness.


One day when I am better I am going to write letters to everyone who helped me. And he will get the first one. And I will send them out, written in my own hand, thank you, thank you, thank you. For your patience, for your support, for your empathy. Thank you. I am grateful for you.

Showing Up.

Turns out learning to live is a lot like physical therapy after a body trauma. At first it’s really hard and – to be completely honest – not exactly fun. Then you get a bit stronger and a bit more use to stuff and now I’m in this odd place where I think, “What is this feeling?” And I realise I’m LOOKING FORWARD to something. I can’t recall the last time I looked forward to something.

It’s a two steps forward, one step back dance for a long time. Really, in the beginning I was just logging time on this planet. There didn’t seem much point to anything. In the beginning the only thing I enjoyed was work. Nice little parcelled out editing jobs because it was something I could achieve. I could look back at the end of the day and think – I did 600 photos today. I could scroll through them and feel like I changed something in the world. Small, insignificant, but something. Work, in the beginning, saved me. On days I worked my mood chart was better. It gave me a sense of purpose. Still, every time a job rolls in I think, “I love this.”

Then it was tiny outings. Maybe I made it into the shops to buy milk. Maybe I managed to walk into the school to grab the kids instead of waiting in the car.

I drove 400ks round trip.

I had tea with a friend.

To begin with those things I MADE myself do. This person is expecting you. So I took my sense of duty and I exploited it.

One time last year? I decided to live because my friend asked me to model for her. Literally decided I didn’t want to let my friend down so I had better live. I exploited the shit out of myself to make myself turn up to life.

It is awkward for me to talk about that. About feeling so bad that I weighed up the pros and cons of being alive. But I try to be honest here. I try to come to you with my vulnerability because I know too well that we hide the ugly parts of ourselves. Every time I bare my skin to you and show you my scars I’m being brave – because it’s easier to hide. I know…. Oh, I know….

But THIS week.

This week I showed the fuck up. This week I wrote myself a list of 10 things and decided I was going to be alive. If my brain could teach me how to hide then surely I could rewire it to be happy. To be present. And now I sit here thinking, what is this feeling? And I realise it’s looking forward to things. And that is being alive.

I’m alive.




I was doing my make up which I’ve discovered is a really good way of making me feel like I have shit together. If I didn’t do my make up I’d sit around in sweatpants all day full of lethargy (can you BE full of lethargy?) and spend hours waiting for something to kick start me. If I get up and do my make up then I’m forced to do my hair, get dressed, be productive.

So I was doing my make up. Foundation was all on, I’d added a bit of colour to my cheeks so I looked a little more like a person and then I was in the middle of filling my second eyebrow when it felt like I was looking at the sky underwater. Like all my feelings were shimmering below the surface.

When I lived in the country we had tank water and there is a little pipe at the top so that when the tank fills it can overflow without busting the tank. That felt like what was happening. My feelings had filled the tank and it was threatening the overflow pipe.

One tear slipped from my left eye, snaking down my cheeks, carving a path. I ignored it because I’ve become very good at ignoring things. The right eye filled and I put the brush down. Looked myself dead in the face in the mirror and watched the overflow happen. I drew breath in slowly, carefully measuring each one because I must be very, very careful here to not let this get out of hand. This is actually good, I told myself, just a little overflow, more room in the tank.

I slid to the floor and bundled my discarded pyjama pants into a ball and pressed my face into them because he was sleeping in the bedroom next door and I didn’t want to make any noise. I didn’t want to be comforted, I didn’t want his hands to stroke my hair, I didn’t want him to know because then I would have to acknowledge my feelings which might make the whole tank split at the seams, so I buried my face into the soft fabric and muffled my sobs for two minutes.

Two minutes of overflow. You can get through the day with two minutes of overflow.

It stopped. I got up. Blew my nose. Wiped my eyes. Looked myself dead in the eyes in the mirror. Then I fixed the rest of my make up. Deep breath. Smile. Open the door.

“Good morning!”

Just Don’t Think About It.

Just don’t think about it.

That’s pretty much how I’m cruising through life lately. Whenever I start to think about things I think, “Just don’t think about it” and wall that shit off.

Of course the downside to “Just don’t think about it” is that at some point in the future I am probably going to have to think about it. Walling things off just WALLS THEM OFF, it doesn’t make them disappear. You can only shove so much crap into the closet before you can’t shut the door anymore and it all tumbles out and explodes all over the floor and you have to deal with it. But for now, “Just don’t think about it” is as good as it is getting because I do NOT have the inner fortitude to wade through this shit and pack it away neatly right now. I just don’t.

In the week that was…I don’t even want to talk about the week that was. Shit fell apart, shit fell together, some shit fell apart again. I went to bed for three days, lost my shit more than once, ate an entire block of chocolate in three days during some kind of cocoa bean/sugar self-medication (glass and a half of milk in every block, right, Cadbury?), ferried kids around, pretended I knew the difference between FTTB and FTTN NBN (I do now), put down a chicken (Just don’t think about it), rescued a Quaker parrot, couldn’t write, wrote, went exploring…

I’m supposed to see my therapist on Thursday and it’s the first time since I began working with her that I’m dreading it because I can’t figure out how to carefully crack the closet door to sneak out something to work on and shut it again without some of the “Just don’t think about it” stuff slipping out. And that would be bad. I’m scared I’ll crack the door and she will see a little bit of that and say, “Hey, what’s this? It looks important.” And I will either have to open the closet door wide or lie to her so I can keep not thinking about it. So I’ve spent 48 hours trying to come up with a convincing lie to tell my therapist so I can avoid thinking about things.

I’m not sure lying to your therapist is really conducive to getting good results.

I know what you’re thinking. That I should work through that stuff so I can move past it. But, you guys? Last week I had so much anger inside me I felt Old Testament God wrathful. I felt like my anger had that much power that I was basically running the household electricity just on what was slipping through my cracks. I felt like if I unleashed my anger on the world I would have split the earth in two and burnt cities to the ground. It felt telekinetic. My rage I held carefully in check for the safety of the world on large and still the bits of it that seeped out of my pores crept across the room, tendrils snaking into the corners, poisonous, black, dark.

So really, I’m doing everyone on the planet a major solid by “Just not thinking about it”.

And I think I’m doing an okay job. I kiss my partner. I tend the kids. I make jokes. I’m getting shit done.

Just don’t think about it.